April 24th, 2010
Conference Thoughts

Last weekend I attended the Desert Dreams Conference in Arizona. I went because I decided not to go to RWA Nationals this year. Small conferences are always interesting. I’d actually recommend them over larger conferences if you want to meet industry folks. The conference held a dinner on the first night. They assigned different genres to different tables. I chose to sit at the Young Adult table. I didn’t know anyone at the table, including the agent, Janet Reid from FinePrint Literary Management. Turns out she doesn’t represent Young Adult books, but was kind enough to pass advice onto everyone at the table. She’s a VERY funny lady. Quite direct, but extremely sharp. Wicked sense of humor. I wasn’t familiar with her blog, but several of the people at the table seemed to follow her.

I decided not to pitch any work at the conference. I could have, but I don’t want to be rushed to complete the books. What I did do instead is try to speak with as many industry people as possible. I didn’t ask how the business was or what trends they see coming. Instead, I focused on their personalities. I wanted to see what type of people they were and if they’d be the type of people I’d want to work with long-term. (I’m sure you’re thinking that they have to decide they want to work with me based on the novel. That’s true, but I’ve had enough unpleasant industry relationships. If I can avoid another, I will.) For me that means talking to as many industry folks as I can. I now know that if I wrote what Janet Reid was looking for, I’d probably have a decent relationship with her. We both have potty mouths and we’re both very direct. She’s fierce when it comes to her clients, which is an admirable trait.

I had a nice chat with Miriam Kriss about comics and Joss Whedon. We’ll agree to disagree about his abilities to direct the Avengers. *ggg* I also had a short conversation with Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks. She seemed like a nice lady. I found out that Sourcebooks really isn’t looking for straight urban fantasy. They want urban fantasy romance instead. (Kind of wish I would’ve known that before I edited much of the romance out of my urban fantasy and had my ex-agent send it. Ha!) I sat next to Laurie Rauch from Samhain at the Saturday lunch. I take full credit for hooking her on Plants vs Zombies. (You can thank me later, Laurie.)

I must say the iPad was a terrific conversation starter. No one else at the conference had one to my knowledge and everyone wanted to see it. I really think Apple should pay me for all the sales pitches I gave. 😉

I attended a few talks. One was ‘How to Maintain a Publishing Career’. No, that wasn’t the title, but it was close enough. Jennifer Ashley gave the talk and did a wonderful job. For those of you not familiar with Jennifer, she has a ton of pen names. All of which were created to keep her publishing regularly. The bottom line is if you want to maintain/launch/start over, then you have to be willing to write your ass off for more than one publisher under more than one name. If a name isn’t working, dump it and come up with a new one. Easy, eh? LOL! I actually thought it was pretty good advice.

I also attended a talk on Organizing the Chaos in ones writing life. If you ever have a chance to attend Robin Lee Hatcher’s talk on this subject–DO IT!!! She gave a lot of amazing tidbits of advice. It takes a lot of work to put together everything about the book before you start writing, but she shows in great detail how much it will help you in the long run. Don’t believe me? Go to the Desert Rose website and order the conference tape. I plan to implement several of her ideas.

It was nice seeing several writing friends that I haven’t seen in years. I think I even became better friends with one of them. I came home energized and exhausted. A perfect combination for any author.

Next up on the conference trail will be Novelist Inc. in St. Pete, Florida. Disneyworld and Universal Studios here I come. 🙂

12 comments to “Conference Thoughts”

  1. Nice conf. recap! I’m planning to hit NINC in FL, too. Maybe we can hunt down PBW and promise to go away if she gives us ARCs. : D

    I hadn’t thought about it, but I bet I’m near several good regional conferences. Chicago is a short train ride away.

  2. Sounds like it was just the right type of conference Jordan.

    I’m happy to hear that you are reenergized!

    I think Deb Werksman is a hoot, I had a great time with her at RT in Orlando.

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful time – that talk on Organizing the Chaos in your writing life sounds like JUST what I need right now. *sigh* You didn’t take any notes, did you? *bats eyelashes hopefully* 😉

    Janet Reid’s blog is AWESOME!! She doesn’t hold back and I admire her for that. Tough but fair.

  4. Charlie, Very cool! I am not sure PBW would appreciate us stalking her, but I’m up for it if you are. 😉

  5. Vivi, Thanks! Yes, Deb Werksman seemed like a cool lady. She was enjoying the sunshine when I stopped her to chat. 🙂

  6. Karen, I did take notes, but I’m not sure they make sense without hearing the chat. There was a LOT of information. She covered everything from printing out calendars to keep track of story timelines to drawing the towns where your story takes place. She also uses architectual sites to print out home designs so you can keep track of where your characters are in the house, etc.

  7. A very interesting review of the conference – I’ve queried Janet Reid and it’s neat hearing from someone who has met her.

  8. Bernard, She’s a funny lady. I spent much of the dinner laughing. She definitely knows her stuff and knows what she likes and doesn’t like. She says she doesn’t pass work on to other agents in her agency if it doesn’t work for her. She just rejects it. Like I said, I didn’t know about her blog because apparently I’ve been living under a rock. *ggg* I’d definitely query her if I thought I had something she’d like.

  9. Thank you! I’ve been trying to remember what the name of that game was, so I could buy it for my very own. LOL.

    And now you know my personality is ‘can be distracted by shiny toys and zombies’. 😉

  10. Laurie, LOL! I’m surprised you didn’t. You were going through those levels pretty quick. *ggg*

    The book I promised is in the mail. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  11. Yup. The conference should pay you a percentage. Had to go order Jennifer’s and Robin’s tapes. Thanks for the link!

  12. Delilah, I know you’ll get a lot out of Robin’s talk. Jennifer’s talk just gave me a lot to think about. I think you’ll enjoy them both.

    You’re welcome. 🙂